Last year, HBO made the surprising announcement that it will start airing episodes of Sesame Street, as part of a new five-year deal with the Sesame Workshop, which produces the show. The announcement revealed that this deal will enable the beloved children's series to produce twice as much content as they have before, with the network also developing a new Muppets spinoff series. Today we have word that the show has let go of three longtime cast members, Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado and Roscoe Orman.
The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Bob McGrath, who has played the music teacher Bob for 45 seasons, announced he was let go at Supercon in Orlando earlier this month. During a Q&A session, the actor stated that all of the original cast members have been let go. Here's what he had to say during the Supercon Q&A below.
"As of this season, I have completed my 45th season this year. And the show has gone under a major turnaround, going from an hour to a half-hour. HBO has gotten involved also. And they let all of the original cast members go, with the exception of Alan Muraoka - who is probably 20 years younger than the rest of us - and Chris Knowings, who is also young."
Alan Muraoka plays Alan, the owner of Hooper's Store, while Chris Knowlings plays Chris, one of the store's employees. Bob McGrath also said at the Q&A that Loretta Long, who plays Gordon's wife Susan, will still remain with the show. The children's show released an official statement on Twitter, clarifying that HBO had nothing to do with any changes in the production.
"Bob McGrath, Emilio Delgado ("Luis") and Roscoe Orman ("Gordon") remain a beloved part of the Sesame family and continue to represent us at public events. To us, and for millions of people worldwide, they are a treasured part of Sesame Street. Since the show began, we are constantly evolving our content and curriculum, and hence, our characters, to meet the educational needs of children. As a result of this, our cast has changed over the years, though you can still expect to see many of them in upcoming productions. As we've stated previously, Sesame Workshop retains sole creative control over the show. HBO does not oversee the production."
The news comes just a few months after longtime cast member David Smyrl, who played the beloved Mr. Handford, passed away at the age of 80. The 84-year old McGrath has been with the show since it started in 1969. Emilio Delgado, 76, joined the show in 1971 while Roscoe Orman, 72, took over the role of Gordon in 1974, becoming the third actor to play the character. Take a look at Sesame Street's statement below, and stay tuned for more on Sesame Street.